The success of your road trip could largely depend on how well you plan it, and our team has tips for everything from vehicle maintenance to emergency kits. Before you get on the road, read our blog, and learn how to prepare for a road trip!
Step 1: Take Care of Your Car
Before taking your vehicle on a long journey, you should make sure it’s in tip-top shop safe. Use your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to check for recalls with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and get your car serviced before you leave.
If you’re up to date on service, you should still double-check these important car parts in anticipation of your trip:
- Cooling system
- Fluid levels
- Belts and hoses
- Wiper blades
- Air conditioning (or heating)
- Floor mats
A dead battery, an overheating car, or even a broken windshield wiper blade could ruin your trip, or worse, cause an accident. For more information on how to check each car part, check out the Vehicle Safety Check List section of this NHTSA safety page. Checking your tires is especially important and only takes about 5 minutes. For your comfort, travel enthusiasts also recommend cleaning your car before and during your trip.
Step 2: Know Where (and When) You’re Going
While it’s tempting to depend on a GPS, you should know you’re route before you leave for a road trip. Look up the weather, road conditions, and traffic before you hit the road and make adjustments if necessary. Plan your trip to avoid rush-hour traffic in big cities and let others know your route and anticipated arrival time.
If possible, you should also get on the road early and stick to daylight hours. Drunk and drowsy drivers can make driving after dark more dangerous, and you are more likely to hit a deer or another animal while driving at night.
To avoid becoming drowsy yourself, you may want to plan stops and overnight stays ahead of time.
Step 3: Make the Perfect Playlist
The last thing you want to do while behind the wheel is become distracted by your cell phone. Arrange your music and all your entertainment options ahead of time so you can hit play and focus on driving. Remember to download your playlists and podcasts to prepare for patches of your trip where signal is unavailable. You should also bring a car charger and cellphone charging bank to ensure your battery lasts for the whole trip and your phone remains available in case of emergencies.
Step 4: Be Ready for Emergencies
Even the most well-maintained car can break down, and car accidents can and do happen. Many road trippers swear by roadside assistance services like AAA, and the NHTSA recommends having an emergency roadside kit in your vehicle and prioritizing a fully charged cell phone so you can call for help.
In addition to a cell phone, car charger, and extra battery, you should always carry:
- A first aid kit
- A flashlight
- Extra windshield washer fluid
- Flares and a white flag
- Jumper cables
- A tire pressure gauge
- A spare tire
- Materials for changing a tire (a jack and ground mat)
- Work gloves
- Basic repair tools
- Duct tape
- Paper towels
- Hand sanitizer
- A change of clothes
- Nonperishable food and drinking water
- Any medicine you may need
- Maps and printed directions
- Extra blankets, towels, and clothing
If you have any kind of emergency, try to place your vehicle somewhere safe and call for help. Stay with your car while you wait and fix what you can. Knowing how to change a tire is especially important, as roadside assistance may not be able to reach you within a reasonable amount of time.
After an accident, it’s important that you do not leave the scene of the crash and you do seek medical attention if you need it. If someone else’s negligence caused your accident, you may be entitled to compensation, so you should also know who to call when the dust has settled.
At May, Rammell & Wells, we have more than 70 years of collective experience helping clients through the aftermath of traffic accidents.
Call us at (208) 623-8021 or contact us online to get the legal advice you need during a free consultation.